Gene Woodwick: That awkward time of year

  • Thu Aug 25th, 2016 9:43am
  • Life

Well, here we are at that awkward time of the year. Summer is almost over. Most vacations have been taken. It’s not time for school, nor is it time to celebrate Labor Day. So what is one to do? Sounds like it’s a perfect time for kvetching. Kvetching is a higher form of grumbling and feeling sorry for one’s self. It isn’t on a par with being a curmudgeon, but it sure is fun.

Let’s kvetch about things that aren’t here anymore. Even the tourists can take part in the process, not just the beachers.

Ocean Shores

For instance— How many folks wish the old 1960s classic Ocean Shores sign was still visible between Chance A La Mer and the old Executive Villa? How about finding the darn wooden clam?

Heading north

Up the beach, don’t you miss all those cows in Jim Well’s fields? Eating at the Chili Bowl in Copalis? How about the drive-in at Oyehut that made the best clam burgers ever? Remember the homemade pie at the Amanda Park café? And what about being able to drink coffee and find out all the local news from Elaine at Neilton?

But one thing you can still slow down and look at in that neighborhood is a real, honest-to-gosh bookmobile. No hand-held device can beat the memories of getting a book from that vehicle.

How about the Alaskan cache structure at Potter’s on Kirkpatrick? That sure brought up romantic images of life in Alaska.

Up Humptulips way

And, don’t you miss that great, big old homestead barn at Loomis’ at Humptulips and watching your kids seeing who gets to see the Smokey the Bear fire danger gauge at the old DNR building first, now the fire hall? Or going to see how close it was to Christmas by the berries on the trees at the Holly Farm?

Wood smoke memories

Darn… You can’t roll down the window and smell the smoke from wigwam burners anymore. Shucks, now you can’t even smell smoke from slash burning because it is all stacked up like hay to slowly return to the soil.

Folks miss the beach humor of the big Red Neck Yacht Club at Copalis Crossing and being able to go into the post offices at Mom and Pop stores and laugh over the latest shake rat and Spotted owl humor.

And, for sure the sand pounders miss sitting by the big wood burning stove, drinking coffee while sitting in a rump-sprung chair at Rhodes’ Pacific Beach store.

Missing old folks

Or talking to the old folks who remembered Norah and Sarge Berg, talk about them and Frenchie. Or listen to May Dominick show you how to make your own commercial clam bag by crocheting heavy string onto the top of a burlap bag and a hoop of willow? There isn’t even a place to listen to Gary Hulet stories— what a loss that is.

At Hogan’s Corner you can no longer see Giles updated population signs. And the drive-in has been turned into a home.

Taholah losses

Up at Taholah, two things are missing. Wild Bill on his bike and Frenchie Mason trudging down the street clutching a little brown grocery bag with his glasses and diabetes meds. But, there still are reservation dogs that think they are people. God bless them…they bring joy the heart.


Now that the ocean mists and the local rains have sprung the re-planted trees into great heights, everyone misses their favorite stump. Stumps become so personalized that they are like a family member. At least at Taholah, you can still see the towering remainders of a small forest of Coriolis snags with their encircling growth rings from the turning of the earth. Sheer magic that is.

New London

Out at New London, the old Polson/Rayonier swamp works are gone and so is the mushroom and fern-buying shack at the bend of the Hoquiam River.

Kvetching to the core

Kvetching even covers the core area. Half of the fun of going into town was looking for favorite landmarks. Surely missed are all of the bridge tenders up in their towers and streets that went both ways.

The urbanization of eating places and lack of blue plate special restaurants, and loggers soup and sandwich shops that served homemade pies sure has cut down on seeing logger tuxedos — White Ox gloves in rear pockets with their snuff rings bleached white, Romeos with heavy wool socks. And what about the lack of all those wonderful ethnic faces at the Spar and the Smoke Shop or at Walt Failor’s lunch counter? Thank God for Duffy’s, or the old beachers would think they are living in an alternate universe.

Good for the soul

And so the list could go on with whomever you are kvetching with. That’s the best thing about kvetching. Everyone has his or her favorite memories and nostalgia is not a bad thing; it’s merely recalling heritage.

Kvetching is good for the soul. It keeps griping away. And this time of year, it prevents complaining about kids, spouses and neighbors. So, kvetch away. Soon Labor Day will be here. School shopping will have to be accomplished. But right now, in this time of the year, you can productively just be kvetching.

Gene Woodwick can be reached at or by telephone at 360-289-2805.